William Ratliff


William Ratliff was a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Independent Institute. His BA is from Oberlin College; his PhD in Chinese/Latin American histories is from the University of Washington. He passed away April 11, 2014.

He wrote and lectured on the history and politics of Asia and Latin America and how traditional cultures and institutions influence modern conditions and prospects for political and economic development. He also wrote on Chinese relations with Latin America and on US foreign policy.

Ratliff’s studies include "Development with Chinese Characteristics: Asia’s Sinic Revolutions in Global Historical Perspective," in P. Caringella, ed., Revolutions: Finished and Unfinished (2012), chapters for B. Creutzfeldt, ed., China en América Latina (2012) and M. Nilsson, ed., Latin American Responses to Globalization (2012). He also wrote Vietnam Rising: Culture and Change in Asia’s Tiger Cub (2008), Doing It Wrong and Doing It Right: Education in Latin America and Asia (2003), and Law and Economics in Developing Countries (2000) with E. Buscaglia. He has coauthored studies of US policy toward Cuba and Latin America with R. Fontaine and on Juan Peron with S. Amaral. He is coauthor of The Civil War in Nicaragua (1993) with R. Miranda and Inside the Cuban Interior Ministry (1994) with Juan Antonio Rodriguez Menier.

Ratliff lived and traveled widely in Asia and Latin America, published commentaries in all major US and many foreign newspapers and been interviewed on CNN, NPR, PBS, BBC, Voice of America, and China Radio International. On the Internet, he has written for "The Online NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" and MSNBC’s "Opinion" section. He taught and lectured for nongovernmental organizations and at Stanford University, Tunghai University (Taiwan), the Austrian Defense Academy (Vienna), and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (Beijing). For two decades he wrote classical music reviews and features for the Los Angeles Times and the Metropolitan Opera's Opera News.

His research papers (collection 1, collection 2, and collection 3) are available at the Hoover Institution Archives.

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Recent Commentary

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It’s the Culture, Stupid

by William Ratliffvia Defining Ideas
Thursday, December 6, 2012

Why do some countries join the ranks of the most developed nations while others do not?

Analysis and Commentary

The Economic Future Of Venezuela

by William Ratliffvia Defining Ideas (Hoover Institution)
Thursday, October 11, 2012
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The Economic Future of Venezuela

by William Ratliffvia Defining Ideas
Thursday, October 11, 2012

Can the country survive yet another term of Chavismo?

Singapore is among the celebrated Asian “tiger” nations

Tigers of a Different Stripe

by William Ratliffvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, July 13, 2011

After their revolutionary fever cools, Arabs will have work to do. They could do worse than to emulate the booming Asian nations. By William Ratliff.

Analysis and Commentary

Cultural values, not dictators like Libya's Qaddafi, are chief obstacle to Arab progress

by William Ratliffvia Christian Science Monitor
Friday, March 18, 2011

Relentless revolt against repression has been upending much of the Arab world. Tunisia is already into its second new leader in two months...

Analysis and Commentary

Understanding The Mess In Honduras

by William Ratliffvia Forbes
Monday, September 28, 2009

For the past three months most of the world has marched in lock-step behind Manuel Zelaya's demand to be reinstated as the president of Honduras...

Analysis and Commentary

The Honduran coup that wasn't

by William Ratliffvia Los Angeles Times
Saturday, July 18, 2009

We have heard a lot about Honduras lately, but there is much more at issue than the nighttime removal of President Manuel Zelaya...

Analysis and Commentary

OAS Adopts Banana Republic Policies

by William Ratliffvia Independent Institute
Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Organization of American States (OAS) grabbed headlines on June 28 when it became the international point-organization for dealing with the “coup” in Honduras that ousted President Manuel Zelaya...

Analysis and Commentary

Book reviews – Asia Policy 8: China on a Roll in Latin America, so Who Cares?

by William Ratliffvia National Bureau of Asian Research (WA)
Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A review of Riordan Roett and Guadalupe Paz, eds., China´s Expansion into the Western Hemisphere: Implications for Latin America and the United States...

Analysis and Commentary

A Realistic Postmortem on China’s Tiananmen

by William Ratliffvia Independent Institute
Monday, June 22, 2009

Some pundits have taken to calling the violent military repression of post-election protesters in Iran a “Tehran Tiananmen.”...